Sunday, November 30, 2008

Weekend #6 - Tres Rios

This weekend we decided to stay home. On Friday night we went to the Terra Mall for dinner. Saturday morning began bright and beautiful so we walked to the farmers market to buy fruit and vegetables for the week. Then we hiked part way up the mountain behind our house to the Boy Scout Camp. We hitched a ride to the top- the view of Tres Rios was amazing! Hiking down was a bit muddy- John slipped and fell twice in the mud- Yuck! We made it back to our house just before the afternoon rain began. The plan for Sunday was to attend an English speaking church in San Jose, however, our bus was 40 minutes late and it was pouring rain so we decided to have "home church". It was a very restful weekend, just what everyone needed.

Friday, November 28, 2008

The Last Day of School

Today was the last day of school. Micah went to a place called the "indoor" for a party- it had a trampoline and basketball courts. They had a hamburger lunch (at 10am) and got their faces painted. Ethan and Kendal had parties at school starting at 9am. By 9:30am Kendal was eating a hot dog "lunch" and Ethan's class had pizza. A clown came and did magic tricks and different dances with the kids. There were balloons and face painting too. I know the kids will miss their classmates and especially their teachers. Thank you St. Gregory's for a great 5 weeks of school!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Last Week of School

This is the children's last week of school- summer vacation begins nest week - so they are dismissed early at 12:30 each day this week. Today we decided to go to San Jose after school. We hoped on the bus and 20 minutes later we were in downtown San Jose. Marcie and the kids went to the children's museum again while JB looked for the bus stop to Panama and a hotel for us to stay in on our way home. We discovered that the children's museum had a second floor, an art museum and a prison museum as well. JB found the bus stop and a hotel that will work for our return in January. We then took a taxi back to the center of town for dinner and an other bus ride home. Only one full day of school left and then the party day! Yeah!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Weekend # 5 - Miramar

Our weekend began on Friday morning- the kids had a day off from school. We woke the kids up at 5am to catch the 5:45am bus from Tres Rios to San Jose. Once in the city, we caught a cab to take us to the Miramar bus terminal. For a total of $13 we were able to take a bus from San Jose to Miramar, a 2 and a half hour bus ride. The kids did great. Once in Miramar we took a cab to the Vista Golf Hotel. We jumped in the pool and then had lunch. In the afternoon, while Kendal was taking a nap, JB, Micah and Ethan went for ATV rides around a track- they loved it! Then it was back to the pool and dinner. On Saturday morning, Marcie and the girls went for a two hour horse back ride. They went way up on a ridge, saw a school that has 10 students and were able to see the Pacific ocean. Kendal rode with the guide and smiled the whole trip! Meanwhile, JB and Ethan went on a canopy tour with 11 zip line. Ethan was thrilled! In the afternoon we hiked to a waterfall, which Ethan fell into- he was not hurt, only wet. And then it was more swimming. Sunday morning was a bit drippy, we were in a cloud forest, but that didn't stop us from doing the climbing wall, low ropes course, trampoline, swimming and having fun. We saw the most amazing rainbows that morning while we were eating breakfast. We then took the 12:30 bus back to San Jose, a taxi to the Tres Rios bus stop, and the Tres Rios bus back to our house. Kendal is still asking when she can go on a horse ride again and Ethan has been practicing spelling "ATV", I think the weekend was a hit!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Weekend #4 - La Fourtuna

Early Saturday morning we drove our rented 4X4 through San Jose looking for the highway to take us to the town of La Fortuna (northwest of San Jose) . Although we didn't find the highway, we did find La Fortuna in just under 4 hours - and no one got car sick:) Once there, we hiked down many, many steps to the La Fortuna Waterfall. 80 feet high it is beautiful and the best part can swim around the base. So in we all went for a swim at the waterfall. We ate lunch on a large rock and then swam some more before making the hike back to the top - much harder going up than down. We then drove 20 minutes over the roughest, bumpiest, dirt road to the Hanging Bridges. This hike through the rain forest consisted of 7 suspension bridges and 9 foot bridges. The sights were amazing! JB and the kids loved making the bridges bounce and swing. Driving further down the dirt/rocky road was our hotel. Our hotel was at the base of Arenal Volcano, the only active volcano in Costa Rica. We went swimming, had dinner, swam again and then got the kids ready to go to bed. Just before the kids went to bed, the clouds that were covering the top of Arenal Volcano blew away for a few minutes and we were able to see red lava flowing down the side of the volcano. It was so amazing, the kids were mesmerized! We saw real, red, hot, lava coming out of a volcano! Sunday morning was dark and rainy. We had breakfast, swam in the pouring rain, and then left for Sky Trek. The whole family took a gondola ride up through the rain forest while it was raining-Sky Tram. The forest is so dense, so tall, so was beautiful. At the top, John and Micah prepared to zip line back to the bottom of the mountain- Sky Trek. Marcie, Ethan & Kendal took the gondola back to the bottom and waited for JB and Micah to arrive. After 7 zip lines, they arrived! They were covered in grease- because it was raining, the grease from the lines falls down onto the participants. Even though they were greasy and a bit wet, they had a great time. Next time our whole family wants to try it! After lunch we drove back to San Jose for a quick dinner. Then it was home and to bed! This was probably our best weekend yet! Hope you had a good weekend too!

Friday, November 14, 2008


Our rental 4x4 arrived early, so we decided to drive to TerraMall for dinner. TerraMall is the largest mall in Central America. It is about the size of a typical North American mall. It has many of the name brand stores and just about every fast food restaurant in their food court. The prices for clothes and food are very similar to costs back home. After dinner we walked around the mall and Marcie got her glasses fixed at the optical store. Then it was home to bed.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Weekend #3 - Volcano Poas

This weekend we rented a small 4X4 vehicle and drove north to the Central Highlands. After 2 hours of driving (and only getting lost once) we arrive at Volcano Poas. What a beautiful sight the crater was, all smoking with sulfur. We hiked the 3km of trials through the rainforest and had a picnic lunch. Then it was off to LaPaz Waterfall Gardens. By the time we arrived it was pouring rain, so we decided not to spend the $125 entrance fee to hike around the park. Driving north and east, through the mountains on winding roads, we soon arrived at our hotel the Thermales del Bosque. Immediately we put on our bathing suits and headed down to the hot springs. There were six shallow pools right be the river. Each pool was a different temperature. Micah, Ethan & Kendal swam and swam, while Marcie & John relaxed in the hot water. Dinner was included and it was by far the fanciest and best meal we have had here in Costa Rica. After dinner, it was back to the hot springs for "night swimming" while Marcie got a massage- it was a fantastic way to end the day!
Sunday morning began with a typical Costa Rican breakfast- rice & beans, scrambled eggs, plantains, coffee and hot chocolate. Breakfast was also included in our $89 room rate. Micah and Marcie then went for a morning horseback ride through the rainforest, cow & goat & sheep pasture, and down into the valley. They saw a sloth hanging upside down from the top most branch of a tree- so cool!! Meanwhile, JB & Ethan & Kendal went back for a swim in the thermals. After checking out, we drove to Doka Coffee Plantation and learned all about how coffee is grown. Doka Coffee sells 75% of their "beams" to Starbucks- yum! John loved driving and says he likes Costa Rica driving better then US driving (it is crazy here with very little regard to rules and regulations). Hope your weekend was good too!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Why & How?

Many friends have asked, "Why are you in Costa Rica?" And some have asked, "How do we send you mail?" So today's blog will answer both those questions.

First, WHY? John comes to Panama/Costa Rica every other Jan. to teach a class with his good friend and Calvin chemistry professor, Douglas VanderGriend. The class, Adventure Skills in Waters of Panama, teaches Calvin students how to scuba dive, white water raft, sail, surf and explores simplicity. John has always loved Central America and has dreamed of coming for more than 3 weeks. This past year, John applied for and was granted, a study leave. He is researching how to better use outdoor education for the spiritual development of college students.
John's schedule is....
5 weeks research, study and writing
2 weeks consultation for CRROBS (Costa Rica Rainforest Outward Bound School)
3 weeks vacation
3 weeks of Interim
Total: 13 weeks in Central America
Marcie and the kids are spending 7 weeks in Costa Rica and 5 weeks in Panama for a total of 12 weeks.

Second, HOW?
If you desire to send snail-mail, it can be sent to....
CRROBS- c/0 John Britton
SJO 829
PO Box 025216
Miami FL 33102
We have been told it takes about a week for mail to arrive and we leave Costa Rica on Dec. 13. (John will be in contact with CRROBS through the end of Jan.)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Question of the Day

It has become our family tradition, during dinner, to share our "highs and lows" of the day and to ask/answer a question of the day. As Kendal says, "highs and lows" are our "goods and bads". Each person is given time to answer and tell about their day. Last night the question of the day conversation went something like this...

JOHN- If you could bring one thing back with us from Costa Rica, what would it be?
KENDAL- The silly songs from preschool.
MICAH- The bars on the doors and windows, because then we would be safe.
JOHN- The bus stop right by our house so that we could take it to work and the kids to school.
ETHAN- My friends from school.
MARCIE- Cable TV and Wi-Fi.
JOHN- I don't think we're quite there yet with the cross-cultural experience.

This weekend should be a cross-cultural test as we rent a car and drive to a variety of places...hope we can find them all!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Weekend # 2 -Irazu Volcano

This morning we took a 20 minute bus ride to Cartago. There we got on another bus that took us an hour up the mountain to Irazu Volcano. At the top we walked to the top of the crater, looked in and then ate lunch. The kids loved the dark volcanic dirt that was everywhere, and it was cool to watch the clouds roll in. Back down the mountain in Cartego we walked through the Basilica Of Our Lady of the Angels, a beautiful, old, very decorated Catholic church. Around 2:30 we took a taxi to Landcaster Gardens. There we hiked and saw some amazing flora and fauna. Once back in Cartago we had dinner at the Pizza Hut (I think we were all adventured out), they even had a play place! Then we were back on a bus to Tres Rios. By this time it was around 6pm and completely pitch dark, the kids thought it was midnight. Then it was showers and to bed-an end to a very busy day.